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NASA's Contributions to Vertical FarmingNASA and other space agencies have an interest in using plants for human life support in space. The plants could provide food and O2 for the humans, while removing CO2 and helping purify wastewater. Studies to date have shown that a wide range of crops can be grown in controlled environment conditions envisioned for space. These systems will be volume and power constrained and will require recycling of water and nutrients. Light is a critical factor both for crop productivity and system power costs, and recent improvements in LEDs make them a preferred lighting option for space. NASA funded research helped test LEDs for plant lighting beginning in1990 and their continued development for the next 15 years. The explore volume efficiency, concepts such as vertically stacked hydroponic systems and light banks were tested in NASA’s Biomass Production Chamber at Kennedy Space Center, FL, US from 1988 through 2000. This was perhaps one of the first operational vertical farms. Findings from these and related tests around the world date suggest that with ~30-40 mol m-2 day-1 of photosynthetically active radiation, about 20-25 m2 of crops could supply the O2 for one human, while about 50 m2 would be required for food (dietary calories).
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Kennedy Space Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Raymond M Wheeler
(Kennedy Space Center Merritt Island, Florida, United States)
Date Acquired
October 16, 2020
Publication Date
October 1, 2020
Publication Information
Subject Category
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 920121.01.01.66
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
NASA Technical Management
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